Stosur to go on the at­tack

The Daily Examiner - - SPORT TENNIS - Lau­ren Wood Her­ald Sun

SAM Stosur knows she is in for a bat­tle of ag­gres­sion on Mar­garet Court Arena to­day.

The Queens­lan­der will take on Puerto Ri­can Olympic gold medal­list Mon­ica Puig and while an­tic­i­pat­ing be­ing “up against it” at times, she can be the one to take her mo­ments of op­por­tu­nity when they present.

“She’s a dan­ger­ous player,” Stosur said. “She’s got a big game and plays with lots of ag­gres­sion and lots of power. I know that I’m go­ing to be some­times up against it and I’m go­ing to feel that.

“But I’ve also got an ag­gres­sive game and I know that it’s prob­a­bly go­ing to come down to who can play good, first-strike ten­nis and play big in those big­ger mo­ments and re­ally take ad­van­tage of any op­por­tu­nity.

“They’re all hard, first rounds in the slams – they’re never easy. But I think my ten­nis can match up well against her.”

Af­ter frac­tur­ing her hand dur­ing the French Open, the Queens­lan­der didn’t play a WTA match for more than three months last year.

She knew there had to be a sil­ver lin­ing, and man­aged to find it in spend­ing time with her fam­ily and even en­joy­ing pe­ri­ods of hik­ing as she pre­pared for a trip.

The en­forced lay­off was any­thing but ideal.

But it only in­creased the 2011 US Open cham­pion’s hunger to make the most of what she hopes is a bumper 2018.

“You’ve got to look at (the lay­off ) in more of a pos­i­tive way than neg­a­tive – it’s not a po­si­tion I would have cho­sen to be in, but it was a good op­por­tu­nity to freshen up, take a break, do some more,” Stosur said.

“I did a whole heap of train­ing off the court when I couldn’t do any­thing with my hand. When you’re given that sort of sit­u­a­tion, you’ve just got to do what you can do.”

A sec­ond-week berth at the Aus­tralian Open is a goal for Stosur, whose pre­vi­ous best show­ing was the fourth round in 2006 and 2010.

“My re­sults here in Aus­tralia … they’re a chal­lenge for me some­times,” the 33-year-old said.

“But I just want to keep try­ing to play well and I feel like I’ve done what I can to put my­self in a good po­si­tion. I’ve just got to go out there and en­joy it and go for it and try and play the way I know I can play.

“If I do that, but I lose, then so be it. But I just want to take care of the stuff that I can, and hope­fully that means lots of wins but time will tell.”

Daria Gavrilova, mean­while, has been train­ing af­ter dark in an­tic­i­pa­tion of play­ing un­der lights at her home grand slam.

The Aus­tralian young gun will take on a qual­i­fier on Rod Laver Arena tonight – a times­lot and court al­lo­ca­tion that the Mel­bur­nian ad­mit­ted had sur­prised her.

But she is adamant that she will be ready for the bright lights of the Aus­tralian Open’s equiv­a­lent of Broad­way af­ter al­ready lay­ing ground­work in prepa­ra­tion.

“I’ve ac­tu­ally been train­ing at night in the pre-sea­son be­cause I knew that there is a chance of me play­ing later (be­ing my home grand slam),” Gavrilova said. “I’ve had late matches in Syd­ney (last week). I think I’ve had good prepa­ra­tion for that.”

Up un­til late yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Gavrilova was in the dark as to who she would be meet­ing on Mel­bourne Park’s jewel in the crown tonight as qual­i­fiers bat­tled on out­side courts for their spot.

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

TOUGH START: Sa­man­tha Stosur faces Olympic cham­pion Mon­ica Puig.

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